This Week in Lincoln County – June 19, 2017

While doing some research on a road issue, I had to refer to a 1930 Lincoln County plat book.  It’s not often that an issue takes me to this volume, but once in a while we get a stumper that requires a trip into the archives.  Surprisingly, most of the roads that we travel today were established and in use already in 1930 and some even appear in my copy of the 1878 plat.  An occasional detour from the frantic social media driven lifestyle of today to immerse myself into the County’s history is indeed a pleasant distraction.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.

  • Speaking of social media, I continue to be amazed by some of the things that appear on Facebook, Twitter, etc. regarding the recent valuation changes sent by the Assessor. I don’t quite know whether to be entertained or disappointed by some of the elaborate conspiracy theories as to why the changes took place.  The most important thing to remember is that the re-assessment takes place in every odd numbered year as mandated by the State of Missouri.  No local officials, particularly the Assessor have any say in whether or not this takes place. Honestly, I have to shake my head at the internet scribes that preach strict adherence to the law 11 months of the year, yet lament the adherence to the statute during re-assessment month.
  • Let’s break down the process a bit more to gain an understanding of how a change in valuation will affect your tax bill. An overall increase in value does not equate to an equal increase in tax.  The Hancock Amendment requires taxing entities to “roll back” their levy amount to prevent such a thing from happening.  I cannot deny that the State mandated re-assessment will result in increased taxes, but I can assure you that the process is not an unregulated money grab by anyone.  When pondering the subject, compare the market value the Assessor has assigned to an honest estimate of what your asking price would be if you chose to sell your property.   When posing this question, I have found that the overwhelming majority of folks begrudgingly admit that the Assessor’s value is well below recent appraisals, sales, and other valuation methods.  If this is not the case on your property, call the Assessor’s office and make an appointment.  Kevin and his staff are there to assist.
  • There is bit of good news concerning the Office of Inspector General (OIG) Audit of our 2015 FEMA disaster grant. We have received a draft of the Final Report, and, while I am disappointed that FEMA does not pay for certain administrative costs of disaster recovery, the only “mistake” that they found on our part was that we had recorded a $1,800 expense as $11,800. Yours truly gets credit for fat fingering that one, but overall I am pleased that an audit at such a high level confirms that we are doing things by the book and following the rules.

That’s all I have time for now.  As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions.  Until next week…

Dan Colbert

Presiding Commissioner

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From the Commission – This Week in Lincoln County – June 12, 2017

Now that the assessment notices are out, I am happy to report that Assessor Kevin Bishop is still alive and well.  At this time of year, even the Commission office gets to handle a few property valuation complaints, but that goes with the territory and we are glad to do it.  Kevin and his staff are diligently working with folks, but I suspect our Board of Equalization hearings will still be a busy few days.

A few items of interest that the Commission has been working on are below.

  • When I have my Commissioner hat on, most of my time is spent anchored to my desk reading reports, crunching numbers, and reviewing budgets, but today I was able to steal away with Commissioners Bass and Mueller to get out on the roads to look at some ongoing projects. I am happy to report that our efforts to keep the focus in our Road and Bridge Department on organized and efficient operations are reflected in the output.  Our supervisors and staff have really amped up their efforts and the progress shows.
  • Speaking of our Road and Bridge Department, last week we sent 7 employees to be trained in the use of our new Cartegraph record keeping software. Implementation of this program is a key piece in our efforts to be organized and efficient.  Employees will be able to record via tablet what they are doing, what equipment they are using, what materials they are using, and this will all be captured and compiled into a database that can generate a plethora of reports. An organized and efficient operation is an accountable operation as well.
  • Commuters that use southbound Highway 61 will need to allow extra time starting Monday, June 19 as MODOT will be working to widen and re-deck the bridge over Big Creek at the St. Charles County line. Traffic will be restricted to one lane, so leaving a few minutes early will keep you and the workers involved safe.  Road raging won’t get you to work any faster.
  • MODOT is also preparing to start the replacement of the Cuivre River Bridge on Route H this summer. Because MODOT’s budget is extremely limited, it is important now more than ever for the Commission to  maintain a collaborative relationship with our State Highway Department to see to it that Lincoln County and the region have their transportation needs addressed in as timely a manner as practicable.
  • Starting this week, this message will be posted on the County website as well, so tell your friends and neighbors.
  • That’s all I have time for now.  As always, call, e-mail or stop by the Courthouse if you have questions.  Until next week…

Dan Colbert

Presiding Commissioner

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County Finalizing Historical Courthouse Grant

The Lincoln County Courthouse has once again been selected as a recipient of a Missouri Heritage Properties Program grant for the Fiscal Year 2017.  The grant was submitted to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) in December of 2016.

The grant scope of work will include insulating the attic of the original courthouse, re-cladding of the cupola, and repairing sections of the wood cornice.  With a total estimated project cost of $80,043, the grant will cover $50,030 of the entire project.

“Our first SHPO grant in 2015 was used to replace the asphalt shingles on the courthouse and completed the first of several preventative maintenance projects scheduled over a two-year time period,” said Presiding Commissioner Dan Colbert. “Using the current grant to insulate the attic should show returns in lower utility bills and the re-cladding of the cupola and repairing of the wood cornices will complete all roof projects.”

Currently the Commission is in negotiations with SHPO to determine the milestones and time line of the complete project. Once those negotiations are complete, it is estimated that the project will go out to bid in late summer.

Historical architect Jennifer Wilson of nForm Architecture has been contracted to oversee the grant project as well as to develop a Master Plan for the preservation of the courthouse.  Wilson will also oversee the restoration of the six cast iron columns on the front of the courthouse.

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